Special Report: The Grenada Chocolate Company Delivers World-Class Chocolate By Sailboat

The chocolate store on Belmont Estate. Woman drying cocoa beans by walking through them. (photography by Nancy Nichols)

Two weeks ago, I was on a cruise headed for the island of Grenada when I received an email about The Grenada Chocolate Company. Needless to say, the headline–“Grenada Chocolate Company and FairTransport Team Up To Make First Ever Carbon-Neutral Trans-Atlantic Mass Chocolate Delivery”—got my full attention. I rearranged my schedule and made plans to meet with Mott Green, the founder of GCC, a tree-to-bar organic chocolate cooperate. Sadly, the only time we could meet was at high noon on a Sunday. The factory was closed so I met with Green at their retail store which is located on the beautiful Belmont Estate, Grenada’s first and finest agri-tourism organic farm.

Green was busy getting ready to pack four tons of his organic dark chocolate and sail with it from Grenada to New York City. He’d partnered with Netherlands-based shipping company, FairTransport, and the ship, the wind-powered Brigantine Tres Hombres, was set to sail from Grenada with Green and his chocolate today. This voyage, according to Green, is the “first carbon-neutral trans-Atlantic mass chocolate delivery.” Green built his own insulated cool room, powered solely by wind and sun, for the ship’s cargo hold. (Click here to follow the ship’s progress and Green’s blog about the journey)

Jump for the story and pictures.

Mott Green with friend and fellow sailor, Charlie Boxer. (Photography by Nancy Nichols)

Green’s rags-to-chocolate-making story is unique. Twenty years ago he was a squatter in New York City. He hooked up with a homeless reggae singer and the two hitched their way through the Caribbean eventually landing in Grenada with only their knapsacks and bicycles. Green slept on floors in the St. George’s area. He returned year after year until he found an old bamboo house he could fix up in the Hermitage village in 1988. The next year he returned and, much to his friend’s amazement built his own bamboo house deep in the rainforest. Green had no no running water or electricity. “People thought I was mad living in the wilderness,” said Green. “Luckily Grenada is known for having no poisonous snakes.”

The Brigantine Tres Hombres. Loading the vessel. (Photos courtesy of Fair Transport)

For ten years he lived among cocoa trees. “I love to tinker with technology and build contraptions so I helped a lot of the local cocoa farmers build pumps using natural materials,” said Green. “I began drying my own beans and making cocoa balls and became a cocoa hobbyist.” His methods were crude: he roasted dried cocoa beans on a stove, took the shells off by hand, and ground them in a coffee grinder. “It’s a gritty concoction,” said Green. “But the trick I learned from the locals was to pour it through a strainer to get a really smooth fatty drink. Those cocoa balls, which you can buy all over the island, got me into chocolate. Before I knew it I would be traveling around with my dried cocoa beans spreading the word about organic chocolate in Grenada.”

The six bars currently produced by Grenada Chocolate Company. (Photography by Nancy Nichols)

He got serious in 1999 when he formed the Grenada Chocolate Company. “Yes, my dream finally made sense,” said Green. “My progression was: Activist, love Grenada, love cocoa, love machines and tinkering, making chocolate, and doing it all without hurting the land.”

Drying the beans is done the old-fashioned way. (photography by Nancy Nichols)

The fruits and nuts of Grenada. Many are used in the store where local chocolatiers create bon bons. (Photography by Nancy Nichols)

Fermenting or "sweating" the beans at Belmont Estate. (Photography by Nancy Nichols)

Green doesn't consider himself a chocolatier. He makes chocolate and several of the locals turn his chocolate into bon bons using local fruit and nuts. (Photography by Nancy Nichols)

Green is the subject of Kum-Kum Bhavnani’s new documentary film, “Nothing Like Chocolate,” which premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in February 2012. Here is the trailer.

The only stores in the U.S. carrying Green’s chocolate are the Whole Foods in New York and Los Angeles. However, you can order on line or by phone from a supplier in Portland, Oregon.

During our conversation we discussed the possibility of Green coming to Dallas and doing an event to promote his chocolate. I have an hour of audio I am trying to turn into a pod cast. This man has s a great story and he tells it better than anyone.

For more information about the Grenada Chocolate Company. For more about FairTransport and the Brigantine Tres Hombres.

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